The Sonoma Coast Yu-ki Vineyard is a fitting testament to Freeman’s passion for finding the perfect site, and for mastering the challenges that come with it. The Yu-ki Vineyard is situated just five short miles from the Pacific Ocean, at an elevation of 1,000 feet. The terrain is steep and rugged, the climate is cold and windy, and here Pinot Noir receives an exacting education.
The Freemans purchased the Freeman Ranch in 2007. Originally an 1860 sheep farm, the property is part of a primal, forested landscape that includes spectacular stands of first and second growth redwoods. Out of respect for the land and these noble giants, the family donated 22 acres of this arboreal habitat to the Bodega Land Trust, under whose stewardship it will be preserved in its natural state forever. The following year they planted a separate 14 acres to grapes, featuring eight vineyard blocks devoted to eight cool weather-loving clones of Pinot Noir. Here, on this sharply raked, predominantly southeast-facing slope, weather and soil produce grapes with intense flavors and high acidity.
Yu-ki Vineyard, like Freeman’s Gloria Estate Vineyard, is farmed by Vineyard Manager Greg Adams, who also works with such noted wineries as Flowers and Patz & Hall. Under Greg’s expert guidance, Yu-ki has been farmed organically since day one – a reflection of the same respect for the earth that inspired the Land Trust donation. Vines are planted approximately 7 x 4, plunging down the hillside in neat rows, 1,900 vines per acre. Careful attention and minimal intervention have maximized the benefits of the site’s sandy clay loam soils, once the bed of an inland sea, which overflowed here to join the Pacific Ocean.
Each drip-irrigated vineyard block has its own custom watering system, and is given individual adjustments throughout the growing season. This is careful winegrowing taken to the most exacting levels, with strict concern for water, cover crops, pest and invasive plant control, and optimum habitat maintenance. The extreme weather in this location results in very low yields of just one to two tons per acre, but the unmatched depth and complexity of these grapes are worth the effort.
The vineyard name “Yu-ki” is a fond tribute to Akiko’s nephew. “Yu-ki” in English also means “courage,” and “big tree” – a fitting symbol for the noble redwoods that stand sentinel to this spectacular mountain vineyard. In Akiko’s words, “I put the same love and concern into this vineyard – and Gloria – that I give to my husband and family. These vineyards are part of my family.”